A handful of exceptions excluded, platformers are typically synonymous with the act of jumping up and ascending toward your end goal, with falling down often resulting in death or setting you back. As the name implies, Freedom Fall takes a different approach, placing your stranded at the top of a tower and forcing you to descend through the traps an precariously placed spikes toward your escape. It’s a novel idea accomplished with a lot of style, but one that was also originally done for mobile and tablet devices and on its way to the PC has had little effort into better suiting it to the platform. What follows is an enjoyable, but flawed experience that can’t reach its full potential, despite being largely enjoyable much of the time. Continue reading Freedom Fall – Review
Race The Sun is an adrenaline rush the likes of which few other games can compare! The whoosh as you soar past objects, the intensity as the sun threatens to disappear past the horizon, and the unbelievable moments of triumph when you make it through in one piece are but small bits of what makes for an extremely exhilarating experience. Continue reading Race The Sun – Review
Being queen isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. For all the fame, fortune, and limitless invitations to balls, there are assassination attempts to fight off, rebelling commoners, war barking at the boarders, and an endless stream of plots to steal your crown. All of this and more is what awaits Elodie, the queen to be, as the impromptu death of her mother accelerates her path to the monarchy in Long Live the Queen, a game that is anything but what it appears.
The most important thing to know about LLtQ is that it isn’t a girly diversion devoid of strategy and intended solely for would be princesses to live out their fantasies. On the contrary it is an absolutely brutal challenge of wits! Your time is split between taking classes and dealing with the day-to-day events that befall a queen, both of which are intimately woven together and require a keen knowledge to predict the outcome of the choices you make.
As you progress through the game you shape Eldodie into a princess of your choosing by way of the various skills you aquire by taking classes. You can only learn so much before push comes to shove and you need to put your skills into action, and finding the balance in it all is where the strategy really comes into play. By manipulating your mood you can gain bonuses to different skills, boosting the amount of skill points you earn in a session, which further adds another layer you need to pay attention to in order to succeed (or even survive).
It is all but a certainty that you will die many, many times before you make it to your coronation, however death in LLtQ isn’t a gameover but just taking a wrong path at one point, and is intended to be a learning experience above all else. Because events typically unfold in a similar way each time, your main goal is to pick and choose which skills to upgrade in a timely manner in order to succeed and push onto the next plot point. Should you fail you can reload a save and try again with new tactics, or start over from scratch and plan your path in a whole different direction.
The freedom coupled with the inherent linearity is an odd combo but what I love so much about the game. It doesn’t change so much that you can’t easily plan for future events, but allows a lot of variation for different outcomes which gives a lot of replay value for those so inclined as to seek out the different endings.
It is also my biggest complaint about the game however, as for all its freedom it does a poor job telling you how to use it and leaves you floundering in the dark trying to find the perfect combo. Getting a “good” ending and seeing Elodie crowned is far harder to do than you would likely expect, and repeatedly dying with only vague mentions of what you did wrong and how to change it can be very disheartening and will likely put many off early on as they are still trying to work out how everything fits. I’m all for letting the player find the answers for themselves, but a bit more guidance would have been much appreciated for all the times I failed in ways that seemed no fault of my own.
But even with the bothersome lack of direction LLtQ is still an extremely addictive and original game, one that immediately sucked me in and kept me hook for hours at a time. It would be easy to get the wrong idea of the game from the screenshots, but I imagine many would be pleasantly surprised if they gave it a chance. The music is lovely and the artwork very nice, with a clean-cut design and humorous, engaging writing that makes it hard not to fall in love with Elodie and the other characters around her.
I have never played a game quite like Long Live the Queen, and hope to see more original titles like this popping up on Steam soon. If you are even the slightest bit interested don’t turn away after the first impression, it has a lot more depth than I think anyone would expect, and is a wholly refreshing and enjoyable experience that most any should enjoy whether they have ever dreamed of being the prettiest princess or not!
Long Live The Queen was developed by Hanako Games and is available on PC, Mac, and Linux via Steam.
Dead Space is the unofficial Alien game we always wanted! The horrific plight of starship engineer Issac Clark aboard the U.S.G Ishimura perfectly replicates the feeling of isolation and suspense of Ridley Scott’s classic, while also innovating and branching out on its own right to create an impeccable homage to sci-fi horror which continually surprises and rewards with each astoundingly well thought out design decision. Continue reading Dead Space – Review
Bad Hotel is bizarre. Not the sort of bizarre that makes you marvel at the creator’s creativity and originality, the bizarre that leaves you scratching your head as to what you are playing, why you are playing it, and how it came to exist in the first place. A tower defense game hidden underneath a music experiment, Bad Hotel is an aptly named oddity which seems to want to do nothing but be different no matter how detrimental it is to the experience. Continue reading Bad Hotel – Review
Eversion is not what you think. The unassuming and colorful visuals are intended not to delight, but to give you a false sense of security; to draw you in before transporting you to the nightmarish world of its reality. It’s intentionally unsettling, and unique in how it manages to get under your skin while never assuming anything is wrong, which is what I find so remarkable about it. Continue reading Eversion – Review
Yes this is a game about squares and rectangles, but it’s also so much more than that. The heart and soul of Thomas Was Alone is its story of friendship, learning to believe in yourself, and never settling for just OK. Groan worthy as that may sound, developer and writer Mike Bithell deftly avoids the pretentious and heavy-handed pitfalls that have proven to be so easy to fall into, and manages to craft a narrative that is touching, funny, and unquestionably charming from start to finish. Continue reading Thomas Was Alone – Review